Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tapas Salad Recipe with Grilled Bell Peppers, Olives, and Capers (Low-Carb, Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegan)

This Tapas Salad with Grilled Bell Peppers, Olives, and Capers is a great summer side dish.

Tapas Salad with Grilled Bell Peppers, Olives, and Capers found on

Even if you're not that familiar with Spanish cuisine, chances are good that you've heard of tapas, a wide variety of small-plate appetizers that are served as snacks in bars in Spain.  In 2008 I visited Boston and ate at a wonderful tapas bar called Estragon with my blogging friend Lydia and her husband Ted.  The next day we passed a bookstore where I spotted The Tapas Cookbook on a bargain table for $5.99 and bought it as a fun souvenir of the trip.

This Grilled Bell Pepper Tapas Salad with Olives and Capers was adapted from a recipe that book, and it's a perfect little small-plate salad to accompany light summer meals.  Another plus for this as a late-summer salad is that bell peppers of all colors are usually plentiful and inexpensive at farmers markets this time of year.  And please don't be intimidated by the idea of grilling bell peppers; roasting red bell peppers on a barbecue grill couldn't be easier! 

My version of the salad bumps up the flavor of capers by adding a little caper brine to the dressing, and I also use a generous amount of fresh marjoram, an herb that I really started to love after my sister Sandee gave me the recipe for Marinated Tomato Salad with Parsley and Marjoram Dressing.  If you don't have access to fresh marjoram, I think basil or oregano would both work in this.  I used regular black olives from a can, but if you want to splurge on imported Spanish olives, the salad could only get better.  (I'm sorry to report that I could find no mention of this cookbook online, which makes me even more happy that I snapped it up when I saw it!)

I used a mixture of red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, but you can use any combination of colors that you find.  

Then follow the instructions for roasting red bell peppers on a barbecue grill.  When the peppers are nicely charred, put them in a bowl, cover with cling-wrap, and let the skins steam off.

Here's how my peppers looked when I peeled off the skins.  The slightly charred parts that remain add a lot of good flavor.

Then cut the grilled peppers into short, thick strips.  I was aiming for pieces that were all about the same size.

Drain the olives well so the salad won't be watery.

Capers and olives are both pretty salty, so I rinsed the capers and let them drain.

Wash, dry, and chop the fresh marjoram or other herb of your choice.

Whisk together olive oil, sherry vinegar, caper brine, marjoram, minced garlic, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.

Then combine the roasted pepper strips, olives, capers, and dressing.  You can serve it right away, but this is also a perfect dish to make ahead and let marinate at room temperature until you're ready to serve it.

Tapas Salad with Grilled Bell Peppers, Olives, and Capers
(Makes about 4 small-plate servings, recipe adapted from The Tapas Cookbook.)

1 large red bell pepper
1 large yellow bell pepper
1 large orange bell pepper
(or use any combination of colors you have available)
1 can (6 oz. drained) black olives
2 T capers, rinsed and drained

Dressing Ingredients:
2 T + 2 tsp. good quality olive oil
1 T + 1 tsp. Spanish Sherry vinegar (or substitute white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar)
1 tsp. caper brine
2-3 T chopped fresh marjoram (or substitute fresh basil or oregano)
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

(You may want to read How to Roast Bell Peppers on a Barbecue Grill before you make this salad.)

Preheat barbecue grill to high.  Cut the bell peppers into fourths, trim curled ends and cut out the seeds.  Place peppers on the grill skin side down, making sure not to put them too close together.  Grill peppers until skins are very charred, about 20-25 minutes, depending on your grill.  As individual peppers become nicely blackened, remove them from the grill and place in a plastic or glass bowl. 

When all the peppers are charred and placed in the bowl, cover it with cling-wrap and let peppers steam for about 15 minutes.  Then peel off skins and discard, and cut peppers into short thick strips.  (I cut each quarter pepper into crosswise strips.)

Put olives into a colander and let them drain.  Spoon out 2 T capers into a small strainer; then rinse the capers and let them drain.  Wash marjoram (or other herb of your choice), dry, and chop.

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, caper brine, minced garlic, salt, and pepper to make the dressing.  Combine grilled pepper strips, olives, capers, and dressing in a plastic or glass bowl.  The salad can be served right away or allowed to marinate for several hours at room temperature until you're ready to serve it.

If you wanted to make this into a more substantial side-dish salad I think chopped fresh tomatoes or cucumbers would make a nice addition.

This kept well in the refrigerator for several days.  Let come to room temperature again before serving.

South Beach Suggestions:
Everthing in this salad is a perfect low-carb ingredient, suitable for all phases of the South Beach Diet and most other low-carb eating plans, including Paleo.  For phase one, this would make a great small-plate side dish for something like Marinated Flank Steak or Grilled Garlic Chicken with Roasted Red Pepper-Aioli Sauce.  (You could even roast a few extra red peppers to make the sauce.)   For phase two or three I'd add something like Pesto Lemon Rice.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

Ten More Tasty Ideas for Grilled or Roasted Bell Peppers:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Roasted Red Pepper Dip with Feta and Mint from Kalyn's Kitchen

Roasted Red Pepper and Garlic Aioli Sauce from Kalyn's Kitchen

Pesto Pasta Salad with Olives and Roasted Red Peppers from Kalyn's Kitchen

Yellow Tomato Salad with Roasted Red Peppers, Feta, and Mint from Kalyns Kitchen

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus from Pinch My Salt

Pasta with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Bowtie Pasta with Roasted Red Peppers and Grilled Chicken from Eat at Home

Carrot and Roasted Red Pepper Soup from The Taste Space

Chickpea Salad with Roasted Red Pepper and Harissa from Healthy Green Kitchen

Spring Greens with Roasted Red Peppers and Blue Cheese from Culinary Cory

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. una ricetta profumata, fresca e molto gustosa.complimenti

  2. Thanks Lucy! (I had to use google translate to read the comment which says, "A recipe for fragrant, fresh, and very tasty. Compliments.)

  3. Totally agree with Lucy and am impressed how resourceful you are to translate!

  4. Maris, there was a time when I knew some Italian, but I'm pretty rusty now!

  5. This salad looks every bit as beautiful as the dishes we shared at Estragon! Adding caper juice to the dressing is a lovely touch.

  6. Thanks Lydia. I still remember the wonderful food there, especially the spicy shrimp and the chickpeas!

  7. This dish just screams "FLAVOR!" to me!!! Once again, your food makes me want to lick my computer screen!


  8. I love tapas but I rarely get to eat them because it's hard to muster up a large enough group to make it worth going. Really I should just make them at home! I love the briney flavors in this dish!

  9. Donna, thanks! I love hearing that.

    Joanne, Salt Lake has a couple of good tapas places but I rarely have them out either. I think it would be fun to have a party and make a bunch of small plates dishes.

  10. I just love an olive salad. So colorful with the peppers. i would add Cilantro as my herb of choice (taste and I have a nice patch growing in my pot garden)!

  11. Dave, I didn't think of cilantro for this but now that you mention it I'm thinking it sounds good!

  12. What a delicious and healthy way to use colorful peppers!

  13. I love everything about this! It's definitely a must-try! :)

  14. I love tapas, such a fun way to enjoy lots of little bites with a nice group of friends. In fact, when we eat out, I often just order a variety of appetizers for dinner. That way I get to taste lots of different little dishes or "tapas.!" Like you that you tried making this tapas with fresh marjoram and briny caper juice.

  15. Your pictures are an absolute delight, and so is your recipe. We would be glad if you could submit it on our site. Cheers :)

  16. Thanks for the nice words about my photos. Unfortunately your site uses a size that is different than all the other photo submission sites, and I'm not going to create an extra size of each photo just for one site.


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